Chase Elliott’s Playoff run takes a big hit early at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 04: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA/Children's Chevrolet, spins after an on-track incident the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 04, 2022 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott’s was knocked off his spot as the favorite for NASCAR’s Playoffs Sunday at Darlington. Elliott won the regular season title and came in seeded first in the 16-driver playoff, but the opening race at NASCAR’s historic track will be one he will want to forget.

Elliott started 23 on the day, and never made it any higher then 15. On lap 114 on the final lap of Stage 1 as he entered Turn 1, Elliott’s Chevy broke loose, slid up the track and collected fellow Playoff driver Chase Briscoe.

Both cars were able to make it back to the pits, and while Briscoe’s crew was able to make repairs to his Ford, the Hendrick Motorsports crew for Elliott ran out of time. Despite NASCAR adding 4 minutes to the DVP clock in the week leading up to Darlington, the crew was unable to repair the damage within 10 minutes and Elliott was forced to the garage with a DNF in 36, last place on the field.

Elliott had little to say after it was over.

“Just hit the wall there in 1 and 2,” he said. “Broke something on the right rear.”

When asked what he needed to do to make up for the disastrous first race in the Playoff, all Elliott could do was smile and say:

“Run better than we did today.”